|2006-01-16||Xbox||Action||M (Mature)||Activision / Neversoft|
For some reason, seeing Neversoft as the developer of a shooter type of game didn't seem right. My mental word association process kept repeating "Tony Hawk". The good news is the transition from skateboarding to horseback riding is a successful one, and you can see it right from the intro scene, which is so realistic it looks more like the beginning of a western flick than a game.
GUN is set in the Wild West, sometime in the late 1800's. Here you step into the shoes of Colton White, a gunslinger raised by an old Indian hunter named Ned. The game passes along a valuable message: in the Old West, trust no one, except your gun. In your adventures with Colton, you will find that revenge and betrayal lurk around nearly every corner.
Gameplay progresses a lot like the GTA series. You go through a series of missions to advance the story, but have several optional quests at hand for when you feel like something different. So aside from escorting and defending a stagecoach, taking out a number of Indians, killing a bear or winning a horse race, there are optional things you can do, such as playing poker or accepting "Wanted" bounties.
Pistols, shotguns, rifles, cannons, gatling guns, TNT barrels, bows and arrows are some of the weapons you will use throughout the game, but there is always a knife and a hatchet for some close-ranged combat and/or scalping.
The horseback riding is extremely well done and very realistic. There are different types of sounds for the terrain you step on, as well as for the speed your horse is running at (you can trot, gallop and even spur your horse for a little speed boost), not forgetting the little dust clouds that you leave behind wherever you go.
While on a horse, you can still shoot whoever you please, which makes for some really interesting chase scenes. Even your horse can be used as a weapon by trampling any enemy that is stupid enough to stand in your way.
GUN does have high levels of graphic violence and swearing that sometimes seem a bit out of place, considering the timeline of the game. Otherwise, the general atmosphere of the game is basically spot-on on the western theme. Everything from the music to the sound effects, saloons, poker games, brothels, bandits terrorizing townspeople with occasional shoot-outs, gold veins to be mined, not even the tumbleweeds were left out.
The storyline is compelling, but it seemed a bit rushed since the game turned out to be somewhat short. But it is very well presented, and the top-notch voice acting counts with the talents of Kris Kristofferson (Whistler in Blade) as Ned, Ron Perlman (Hellboy) as Hoodoo, Brad Dourif (Wormtongue in LOTR) as Josiah Reed and Thomas Jane (Frank Castle in The Punisher) as Colton. They truly make the story come alive, and you can't expect any less from professionals.
Creating a new game that is worth playing is always a challenge for any developer. Neversoft was up to the challenge and in the end graced us with a thrilling adventure where you can pretend to be the good, the bad or the ugly.